Sunday, March 3, 2013

Let’s send out a firm message: Never again

Given the events of 2007, the elections are the last opportunity for us as a country to get our politics right. If we bungle Monday’s election or go back to killing each other, not only will the world give up on us as a civilised nation but Kenyans too could lose faith in their own country. Whatever the outcome of this election, normal life continues for the Kenyan family.

The world will not stop because of the electoral outcome, and that applies to voters as much as to the candidates. Ultimately, the fate of this country depends on the conduct of the contesting politicians and the efficiency of the electoral authorities. It has been said many times before but it bears repeating: the vanquished must accept defeat with grace. There is no dignity in being a sore loser and it poses a grave danger to 40 million Kenyans.

As to the winner, you must not behave as if you have been granted a title to the property called Kenya. Be magnanimous in victory. You and your supporters must respect those whom you have defeated. You have a duty of national healing to reach out to your rivals and behave like the President of everyone, not just your supporters. Revenge and political score settling are primitive and unworthy. Excluding supporters of your rivals from the political mainstream is destructive and divides the country. This is a moment of statesmanship.

Reforming institutions

The Kenyan nation has invested heavily in reforming its institutions, such as the police, the Judiciary and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. These institutions must be allowed to do their job. Have faith in them. Any calls for street protests that could lead to violence must be completely rejected.

With the new order, the ignominy of a departing president being booed and pelted with mud must never be repeated. The nightmarish scenes of Kenyans tearing down the pillars of their economy must be consigned to the dustbins of history. Images of brother turning on brother are best deleted from the collective memory.

Here is our opportunity to shame the sceptics and doomsday theorists. We must prove wrong those who are addicted to the image of Africa as a continent of bloodshed and suffering , such as the makers of the CNN story showing militia preparing for war in the Rift Valley.

As a nation we must show that we learnt our lesson from 2007. It is a chance to demonstrate that we have come of age and are fully prepared to take our rightful place among the community of secure democracies.

The last time we descended into anarchy and bloodshed, more than 1,000 Kenyans were butchered and 600,000 evicted from their homes. Our country was the scene of the most shocking atrocities, such as the burning of people inside a church building. Even today, there are Kenyans who are refugees in their own country. In that season of madness the economy lost at least Sh25 billion.

The future of this beloved country is today in our hands once again. By all going out to vote, respecting the outcome and ensuring law and order, we will be united in sending out a firm message to the world: Never again.

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